UNICEF has launched a new appeal for humanitarian support for children who are bearing the brunt of intensifying violence in northwest Syria.
Children are bearing the brunt of intensifying violence in northwestern Syria, UNICEF has warned. Over 500 children were injured or killed in the first nine months of 2019, and at least 65 children have been killed or injured in the month of December alone, the organization said in a statement on December 24.
"Recent intensified violence in densely populated areas of Ma'arat An-Nu'man, south of Idlib city, has pushed thousands of families to flee north. Since 11 December, more than 130,000 people, including over 60,000 children, have been displaced from southern Idlib, northern Hama and western Aleppo because of escalating fighting", the UN agency said.
Concern for dropping temperatures
UNICEF stressed that these displacements are "adding pressure on generous host communities and on overcrowded camps. Many families still have no shelter at all and are sleeping out in the open."
"The upsurge in violence and displacement comes as temperatures plummet around the region, bringing flooding and freezing rain. Children living in camps or other poorly insulated accommodation are exhausted from multiple displacements and particularly exposed to the cold, illness and in extreme cases death."
'Support to humanitarian access'
"Humanitarian access must be sustained to provide life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of children everywhere in the northwest and other parts of Syria," UNICEF said in its appeal. "Nine years into the war, children in Syria continue to experience unspeakable violence, trauma and distress."
"Children must always be protected including in times of conflict. This is an obligation on all parties to the conflict -- not a choice. UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities and put children first once and for all", the agency stressed.